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Thursday, 30 November 2017

It's a livin thing

We had a break on the weather on Sunday morning  with flat seas after a night of turmoil and good viz. There was eve a rainbow over the water inviting us in. All macro this morning, and it was fun just to play around for a change without any requests, deadlines or assignments to worry about, just dive and shoot.

Spot was with us instantly hoping for some attention as usual (high maintenance these snappers....) and we had a good selection of blennies and gobies hiding among the hard corals in the shallows.

No sightings of big stuff while we were in but then again, we weren't really looking for any so that elusive hammerhead that's been spotted a few times recently will just have to wait for another day.

Some nice banded jawfish were more than happy to pose for a while but no eggs just yet though.

Best part of the dive was spending a good portion of it just hanging out with a leopard flatworm, which I don't see enough of over here. It was running around the place in one of the sand chutes and made for a great time, think it was about 30-25 minutes just watching and taking pictures. Well worth getting in the water for. It's not always about the big things (so women keep telling me......).

And we capped it of with a nice little flamingo tongue cowrie climbing up a sea fan with a little difficulty but it made it up there eventually. You can do anything when you put your mind to it.

Getting out at the end of the dive proved a real who's who as everyone seemed to be turning up out of nowhere. Captain Tilley was there with his free diving mob, Captain James was borrowing the pool and Fulvio was herding his students into the car park. Just as well we were getting out as everyone was getting in........

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Childhoods End

There's still a few days left in the Ocean Conservation Awareness month to get down to Camana Bay here on Grand Cayman and enjoy some of the best photography in the Caribbean provided by some very talented people, including yours truly. Go on, you know you want to........

Jill modelling for me whilst modelling for me in the original. It's all very meta.....

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Good times, bad times

Nice little video showing a satellite capture of the 2017 hurricane season. Looks pretty unless your in the middle of several of them.

This was out worst season yet since Ivan went through, hopefully we won't see something like that again for a long time.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

Feel free to pick up Sport Diver's special edition magazine this month "World's Best Diving - Resorts & Liveaboards". Not only is it packed with useful information but Jill gets to show off her modelling skills yet again for the camera.

You'll find her in the "Dynamic Dives" section on page 73 promoting Lighthouse Point (again) here on Grand Cayman and letting the world know about the world class diving we have here on our doorstep.

Also keep an eye out for more Cayman madness in the Jan/Feb edition of Scuba Diving magazine.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Walk the dinosaur

Not only would this be a spectacular to find, as any shark encounter would be, but to see a living fossil at that. History right before your eyes. It's nice to see that examples of this species of shark can still be found, despite our best efforts to kill them off, deliberately or otherwise.

Link: HERE

 "A fishing trawler, working to minimize unwanted bycatch and the impact of commercial fishing on untargeted species off the coast of Portugal, has caught a rare sample of a primitive shark that’s often referred to as a living fossil. The frill shark isn’t literally unknown, but it’s uncommon to catch them. It’s called a living fossil (a term also sometimes used to refer to species like the coelacanth, glypheoid lobsters, and the dawn redwood). The term refers to a species that was previously known from the fossil record, but is then discovered alive in the modern world. In the frill shark’s case, it dates back to 80 million years ago."

 "Frill sharks have been caught around the world, but only rarely observed by humans. It’s been reported around the world but never in large numbers, typically at depths above 3,300 feet (the 2,300-foot depth of this catch is within the normal range). It’s an example of how poorly we understand the distribution and ecosystem role of many ocean-dwelling creatures"

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Somewhere beyond the sea

So if anyone is on the island during the month of October, head down to Camana Bay take a stroll down the Paseo, you'll see some fine photos relating to Ocean Conservation month. 

They held a photo contest for all the best and brightest photographers, no money involved, so I threw one in just for sh*ts and giggles and they picked it. Couldn't make the photoshoot for the newspaper as I have to work for a living but you can see everything on display for the next few weeks by some quality people including Captain Tilley, Miss Brittainy and Jim (not Kirk) to name a few.

P.S. The caption they put on my photo is not the one I wrote, they changed it, and personally, I think it's pretty crap but they have the rights to it now. Ah well. Enjoy!

Link: HERE

Cherub Rock

The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it was forecast to be but it still wasn't great but we took a risk anyway and got a quick dive in. 9 Knots NE with a mild Northerly current and decent viz but the marine live was a little lacking but I couldn't blame them for that. There were a few nurse sharks cruising the Nicholson when we first arrived but they disappeared in short order unfortunately. Probably had way more more important things to do than play with us.

I did get them on the first few seconds of the video disappearing mid frame if you look really quickly. Took a while for Spot and Brutus to turn up and they brought Spot Jr. with them too which was nice because it's always good to see a new face.

Down the sand chute and over to main wall proved a little barren in marine life but the colourful sponge and coral formations made up for it.

Did I mention the colours?

One last whizz round the Nicholson with a quick hello to Amphitrite on the way past for good measure to round things off. Don't know if there will be diving next weekend as the wind looks spectacularly crap but we'll see what we can do.

Obligatory crap video inserted below for sh*ts and giggles.

Also link: HERE


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

I wanna hold your hand

Countless octopi have been moving up the beaches of Wales over the past few days, which scientists suspect may be the result of climate change but have yet to come up with any conclusive evidence as to why this is happening.

Link: HERE

Brett Stones, who runs dolphin tours in Cardigan Bay, saw as many as 25 curled octopuses on New Quay beach as he returned from a day at sea.
"It was a bit like an end of days scenario," he said. "There were probably about 20 or 25 on the beach. I have never seen them out of the water like that."

 Mr Stones, 39, who has spent most of his life at sea and runs tours for SeaMôr dolphin watching, said: "Maybe they are getting confused by the bright lights in New Quay harbour and maybe they are dying off after summer or getting knackered after the recent storms. 

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Dog Eat Dog

It would be interesting to see more places this around the world. As long as building them doesn't upset the ecosystem of course. It could be quite interesting......

Link: HERE

"Now, a new high-end restaurant is being built in Norway that will let you do just that, and its dining area is completely under water. It’s called, fittingly, “Under,” and it’s being built on the coast of Norway — or, to be more specific, it will become part of the coastline itself. Designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, the structure will be built on a rocky shore and dip down into the sea, where customers will be able to watch fish swim as they eat their brethren."

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Free Fallin

Roatan, nicknamed "the Big Island", is found 40 miles North of Honduras and is a mecca for divers. Now that Cayman Airways do direct flights to Roatan, there really was no excuse to go and visit as they're just over an hours flight away.

 We stayed at Half Moon Bay on the West End of Roatan and hooked up with Roatan Divers who had a solid reputation and were conveniently only a 3 minute walk along the beach from our hotel. 

Being an salty old diver, I like to set up and check my own kit but Russell and the rest of the crew will quite happily be at your beck and call to do your bidding if you prefer not to wrestle with your own equipment and have a lazy time of it.

 Most dive sites were minutes away by boat, the furthest being 7 minutes so that gives you and idea of how quick you'll be getting wet. Forget your morning coffee as your wake up call, just roll off a boat!

The quality of diving on Roatan is excellent, easily as good as diving on Cayman with similar conditions, marine life and topography. I sometimes forget how spoiled we get with all this warm water and endless visibility, makes me long for the good old days of drysuits in Scotland. But I digress. The West End is a fantastic array of colours with voluminous hard coral formations topped off with a plethora of ginormous barrel sponges.

Conditions whilst we were there were flat calm with barely a ripple and on most occasions during the week the Roatan Aggressor was moored up a couple of buoys along from us. So if you want to save a pile of cash, forget the live aboard and just do the day boat diving.

Some of the memorable sites worth a visit were Melissa's Reef which gave you a good mix of scenery, depth and marine life, particularly if you're a shutter bug, with a great selection of rope and barrel sponges along with some nice gorgonias and cruising fusiliers to brighten the place up.

I would be remiss if I neglected the small stuff and somewhere like Eddie's Trifecta is an ideal spot for the macro lovers. It's a hotbed of action for seahorses, pipefish and nudis. We got two of the three on the day. 

We also had a large selection of gobies, blennies, arrow crabs, barber shrimp and lizard fish to name a few. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop, too many options and you want them all to yourself.

One thing that took me by surprise is the sheer volume of sharpnose pufferfish. These things are everywhere you go, on every dive site, everywhere you look. They must breed like rabbits down here, possibly to do with the Viagra in the water or something.....

Did I also mention the turtles? Yep, quite a few hawkbills and greens with occasional loggerhead sighting. And yes, typically the big stuff will turn up when you are rigged up for macro, It's the unwritten law of underwater photography.

You can do three dives a day but we opted to just do two in the morning and chill the rest of the day as it was a "recharge the batteries" kind of holiday as opposed to a "balls to the wall" diving experience. It was a nice chilling week away.

Roatan Divers had two main boats with a third on hand if required and soon to have a fourth boat to be added to the fleet. Rental kit is available if you don't want hump your own and is in good clean serviceable condition with separate rinsing facilities for wetsuits, BCD's, masks and cameras.

There's plenty of options as far as food and drink goes at Half Moon Bay as everything is in walking distance and you can walk the main drag in about 6 minutes. Noteworthy mentions were Gingers, three feet away from the waters edge and 8 feet away from the dive shop. Good tasty simple food and plenty of it with some nice burgers and Mexican food. Most places you go will also serve monkey lala cocktails. Well worth sampling. Lots of times.....

And if you go to Oasis, you get great original food, but they're known for having the best ribs on the island. Their menu changes on an almost daily basis but the one thing that's always available is the ribs, and they are superb. Go for a half rack if you are a normal person or a full rack if you are a fat bastard.

Roatan, easy to get to, easy diving, great scenery and marine life, friendly people, good food and drink, not outrageously expensive and one of the best things about Roatan?  They have hummingbirds!!!!!  They're so fluffy!!! I love these things!!!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Permanent Waves

I know my posting a has been a bit spotty the last few weeks but I do honestly have some good excuses for that. Firstly my wife has abandoned me to go to the states and has been there for the last three weeks, so no model/dive buddy. 

Secondly, if you haven't been following the weather we've been getting some serious hurricanes ripping through the Caribbean. Thankfully for us (but not for some other islands) we've managed to dodge the bullet so far, but we have been getting the after affects which has precluded any diving.

On the upside, weather permitting, we will be in Roatan in two weeks, so hopefully I'll have one of two nice pictures for a decent blog update. Stay tuned.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Every breath you take

Captain Nige, dive instructor, boat captain and scourge of lionfish everywhere has a book out which is worth a read if you have questions about air consumption and how to improve it. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy.

Link: HERE

I'll let him tell you in his own words........

"Customers have been suggesting for years that I write this book because I’m regularly suggesting tips for how to improve their air consumption and a lot of them have really benefited, and enjoy their vacations so much more. With the help of many real life examples this book will help you improve your dive times and ensure you have a happy buddy."

" This book is ideal for many divers both inexperienced or for those who have filled up many dive logs, but have not yet mastered the art of excellent air consumption. It’s a 42 page pdf e-book download so you can read it on your laptop, tablet or phone with any PDF reader. Read it at home before your vacation, then take it with you and re-read it before your dive for last minute tips."

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hard Road

You know it's going to be an interesting dive when you see the fish struggling against the current. Conditions at the surface were as good as you could expect them to be with a 2-3 knots NE at the surface, relatively flat with good viz. 

Under the water was a different matter with a ripping Northerly current that was a challenge and a half to work against. But then we were in the throws of tropical storm Harvey passing us down South which would later bring torrential rain and thunderstorms.

A lot of the dive was spent in the shelter of the Nicholson as there really wasn't anywhere else we could go. I had to dump all my air, dig my heels into the sand and lean back as far as I could into the current to keep steady and Jill had to swim like a mad bugger to stay in frame. Who said underwater photography was all fun and glamour? Spot and Brutus came to hang out with us for a while, which was nice but I think even they got tired out.

We went out to the main wall to check things out but is was exactly as expected, complete washout so we came back to the Nicholson for some more shots from the interior with a few more friends..

Not much bottom time to be had today, which was a real shame but that's the way things go. There's always another day for a dive. If next weekend has currents like this, I'll need some concrete fins to keep me in place!......

Oh, and there's some random video of the dive below from my Youtube channel if anyone is interested.......

Link: HERE